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DIY Play dough that smells good

Ehhh, smells good? Why do we care what our play dough smells like, you ask? Well, if you have ever taken a whiff of homemade play dough before, you know why. If you haven’t, you can thank me later for sparing you.

My kids love making their own play dough. I know, I know, you can pick it up at the store, but here are a few reasons why you should just make it yourself:

  1. It’s cheaper to make yourself.
  2. Bonding time for you & your kids
  3. The obvious mom points.
  4. You can make it any color you want.

play dough

If you have children under the age of 5 like me, and more than one at that, you may want to set up your ingredients ahead of time. I like to get it all ready to go before I let the mini play dough monsters know it’s time to get started. Otherwise they are jumping up & down on chairs before I can find the flour and it’s all downhill from there.

So, be strategic and make it fun!

Make your own playdough

I also suggest some simple math. Multiply this recipe by the number of children you have. I have two, so I double it. You could also get crazy and do one batch at a time, letting them each pick their own color, or leave the food coloring until after it’s cooked, ration out and knead in the color. See, homemade play dough gives you options, another bonus.

Now you have your ingredients, your game plan, your children. I let mine take turns putting in each ingredient into the pot. They love this part! And then, I let them take turns “stirring” while I hide the panic I am feeling on the inside because we need to stir continuously but my 2 year old just flicks at the top of it. She gets a very short turn every time.

Homemade playdough recipe

Today I was pinched for time, so my minions had to agree on one color and we made a double-batch and added the color in while stirring.

Homemade soft play doh

Once it starts to firm up I have to take over the stirring, and then onto a cutting board or plate it goes to cool.

Here is where you want to make it smell good – I use peppermint extract. No, my kids have never tried to eat it. I have no idea why, my daughter still eats sand every chance she gets, but we don’t have a problem with the play dough. If your kids try to eat it, maybe add some cayenne pepper and tell them it’s red sprinkles. Problem solved.

Side-note: You can use any other type of extract, but I like peppermint because it’s clear. Most are brown which changes the color of your play dough.

Make your play dough smell good

Okay, here’s another fun part. For those of you who are total lunatics, you can add glitter at this point and knead it in. I did this once at the urging of my children. I hate glitter, but I am a nice mom, so I took one for the team. Your choice there.

Homemade Play dough

I always let it cool for a few minutes while I go set up a spot at the table and some play dough tools for the kids, and then split it between them, heat up my cold coffee and enjoy!

Homemade play dough for kids

1 cup water
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Food coloring
Peppermint extract (optional)
Glitter (very optional)

Combine all ingredients (except extract and glitter) in pot/saucepan over low-med heat, stir continuously until it starts to thicken around your spoon. Move onto wax paper or plate to cool for a few minutes. Knead in a couple drops of peppermint extract. (Knead in glitter if you’re into that kind of crazy thing.)

NOTE: Again, I recommend multiplying this recipe by the number of children you have, so they each have a good amount of play dough to play with.

Homemade playdough


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